February 21 - 27, 1996

Our Travel Experience - Photo Album - Ratings - Tourist Info

Our Travel Experience
This was our first trip after moving to London, so we were very excited to be taking time off work and taking advantage of being in Europe.

We flew into Venice from London and were very happy to see Tim there to collect us. His plan was for us to spend the day together in Venice. Mark and Tara were both working, so we'd see them later that night.

Tim was a good tour guide since he'd been staying in Italy with Mark and Tara for a few weeks already. We wandered among the pedestrian streets, crossing canals and enjoying the architecture. Seth's Tara remembered Mark's Tara's explanation about how the taxation system explains why many of the houses appear to be neglected on the outside. But even with the houses in severe need of paint, we found Venice to be charming. We were amazed by St. Mark's Cathedral. The pattern on the tiled floor is especially memorable to Tara.

At the end of the day, we drove back to Mark and Tara's and spend an evening relaxing in front of the kitchen fireplace. The boys spent the night reminiscing about high school football and how far they'd come since then.

The next day was spent with Tim and Tara. They took us to downtown Vicenza. We shopped in the morning market. We also saw the view of the entire town from the church parking lot overlooking the town. It was a relaxing day since we stayed locally, seeing the places Mark and Tara frequently go to. Seth also had a lot of fun playing with Kona (aka. Kujo), Mark and Tara's big dog. Seth would throw a car tire down the hill and Kona would go racing after it. Kona was large and strong enough to pick the tire up in his mouth and run back up the hill with it. I don't know who had more fun - Seth or Kona.

The next day was spent with Tim. He was our chauffeur and local tour guide. We visited three small towns around Vicenza. The first town was a walled city from Medieval times. The ruins of the castle were still standing on the hill overlooking the town. The town center's memorable feature was the life-size chess board in center of town. We were lucky to find a nice restaurant since were passed through very close to siesta time. After lunch, we drove to the town where much of Italy's pottery is made. It was definitely siesta time as we passed through here as all the shops were closed. The final town we saw was in the valley where Grappa is made. We never did make it to the bridge in the center of the town where there were free Grappa tastings. Maybe that's because we have tasted Grappa before! We did visit a pet store and felt very sorry for a little yellow bird sharing a cage with a big snake.

Friday was our day spent on the base. Seth's Tara was very excited about stocking up on American products, so Mark's Tara decided to sign her in as her sister so she could come into the PX. No one thought about how Tara and Tara are spelled exactly the same. It was funny, but we got in anyway. After a day of shopping, we all got in the car and headed to Rome. The five of us were very cozy in Tara's Saab. But that was fine, since the Saab got us to Venice, Vicenza, Verona, Rome and Florence.

We arrived in Rome late at night and, due to Mark's luck, found our hotel. This is the hotel we think of as a 2 rating. Just after getting in bed, Seth remarked on the bug crawling along the ceiling. We hoped the bug had a good grip on the ceiling. We shared a room and Mark & Tara shared with Tim. Mark & Tara had the better room, with a great wallpaper view of a lake and a forest on one wall. Not the type of hotel we'd been used to staying in, but it was a great bargain! The next day, we set out to tour the city on foot. We walked from the hotel to the Spanish steps, up the steps and to the Pantheon, then to the Coliseum and up the steps overlooking the Roman ruins. A very long, tiring but enjoyable day.

As the next day was Sunday, where else to go in the morning but to the Vatican. We explored St. Paul's and its catacombs. We were even lucky enough to stand with the rest of the crowds to hear the Pope speak from a window high above the courtyard. We nearly made it to the Cistene chapel, but were hungry and tired, so we instead went for lunch. The rest of the day was spent exploring the city some more.

The next day, after only 3 nights, we were on the road again. We left Rome by the old Roman road. The ancient catacombs and grave sites were an interesting mix with the modern women selling their own wares! To break up the long ride back, we stopped in Florence.

Tim and Mark had spend a summer in Florence together after graduating high school, so they were interested in what had changed. Tara saw her favorite Italian Domo (the pink and green one). And Tara was also surprised by another church were nearly every plaque commemorating a famous artist or scientist was known to her.

Then it was back to Mark and Tara's. Needless to say, we froze upon arrival since Mark had turned the heat off for the weekend.

Just one more day and we were headed back home to London.

Photo Album

Here we are in Venice


Tara and Tim

Seth and Tim thinking of peeing out into the canal.

Tara hit her head on the trunk getting some luggage out. Good thing Dr. (or is that priest) Mark was around to use his powers and heal her.

Seth playing with "Kujo". He would fetch this large tire as it went rolling down Mark & Tara's terraced back yard.

Tim on top of Mark and Tara in their Rome hotel room. Their room had a much better wallpaper view than ours.

Seth, Tim, Tara and Tara in front of the Spanish steps.

Mark and Tara

Tim in the shower

Tim reading while Tara sleeps.

The Pope addressing a huge crowd (including us)

Category Rating Comments
Overall Rating 8 Wonderful to spend time with old friends. 
Ease of Journey 3 Five of us riding in a car didn't make for the most comfortable of journeys.
Accommodation 7 / 2 Mark & Tara's house was beautifully situated on a hill overlooking a vineyard and the rolling Italian countryside. The only down side was the lack of heat since Mark is so cheap. The poor rating of 2 is for the hotel in Rome. 
Activities 8 It was a good idea to get in the car and drive.
Coolness 8 A very memorable tour.
Travel Facts

Wednesday, February 21, 1996 - BA #588 at 10:15am London -> 1:20pm Venice. economy seat 31E
Tuesday, February 27, 1996 - BA #589 at 2:25pm Venice -> 3:35pm London economy seat 11A for Tara
Tourist Office:
Web Sites:
Airline: British Airways
Travel Times Flight between London and Venice takes just over 2 hours either way
Hotel: Rome - booked by Mark & Tara through the Army's travel department